Mumbai : Star India’s online video streaming platform, hotstar, has already got in four sponsors for the Vivo Indian Premier League (IPL) including Flipkart, Raymond, Axe Deos and Volini. Other advertisers on the platform for IPL include Lloyd, Hindware, Hero Fincorp, Airtel, and Amazon. More sponsors and advertisers are expected to come on board by the time the ninth season of the tournament launches.
This is the second year when hotstar will be airing the annual T-20 extravaganza and the third year for the Star India network. In 2014, the network shared the online streaming rights with Times Internet Limited and in 2015, it won the digital rights for the tournament for three years. As a result, in 2014, the league was available on starsports.com and since 2015, it has been available on hotstar as well.
“Over the past couple of years, we have seen a consistent increase in the reach of the tournament on digital. The IPL reached around 28 million in 2014 on starsports.com. This increased to approximately 41 million in 2015 and this year, we are hopeful of reaching 100 million viewers on the digital platform,” says Ajit Mohan, president and head, hotstar. Before 2014, the digital reach of the tournament was in the range of 16-18 million, according to media planners.
While it might look like an uphill task to double the reach in a year, the network is confident of achieving this given the popularity of the platform and the growth of the digital platform in general as part of the media distribution sector.
To achieve this target, the team at hotstar is working on value-added content and programming. For starters, this year, the pre-and post-match shows will be produced exclusively for the hotstar platform. There will be a language feed option between Hindi and English and the network is working with some of the teams to produce special content around these IPL franchises for consumption on hotstar.
“In 2015, we were focused on creating awareness and getting people on the platform. This year, we are focused on programming and content as well. We will continue having the weekly round-up segment this year, in addition to the new content features,” says Mohan.
According to Mohan, hotstar is increasingly becoming the primary screen for live sports, especially cricket, among the affluent males (15 years and above) in the top six cities in India. From the advertisers’ perspective, this is the main target audience.
Data shared by the digital platform suggest that the Vivo IPL 2016 player auction got 60 per cent viewership in the above-mentioned target group, out of the viewership garnered by the television broadcaster Sony Six. This suggests the affluent male in the urban territories is turning to hotstar for cricket consumption, says Mohan. It is perhaps for this reason that handset maker Samsung has focused heavily on advertising on hotstar in the on-going ICC T-20 World Cup compared to the television medium.
Hotstar has been set up under Novi Digital, a step-down subsidiary of Star India, which also includes other digital assets such as Screen (acquired from The Indian Express in 2014) and starsports.com. Apart from cricket, the platform’s library includes tennis, kabaddi, badminton, football and hockey. Its non-sports library includes shows from across the network’s television assets and movies in different languages.